How is Jari doing now?

We had a meeting with one of our most involved Blue Jay members of the Blue Jay comminity

What is your name?

I am Jari van Ewijk, and I am 23 years old.

In which Blue Jay team were you?

I was part of Blue Jay 3 between July 2017 and September 2018. My team created the proof of concept for a lifeguard assistant drone. It was able to spot a drowning person in a swimming pool, drop an inflatable buoy and alert a lifeguard.

What was your function within Blue Jay?

I was a full-time team member for a whole year. In the first place I was an electrical engineer, but I was an embedded software engineer as well. And occasionally also a drone pilot.

I was one of the team members responsible for building the drones. We build six in total, though many did not survive until the end of the year. Together with my colleague, I was responsible for designing and manufacturing the circuits of the drones. We also had to select and integrate many subsystems that we could not design ourselves. I also acted as the “negotiator” between the electrical engineering and software development teams.

It was a lot of fun to have these different roles within the team. I was able to learn a lot that I wouldn’t have been able to learn during my courses and projects at the university.

How did you experience your year at Blue Jay?

During my year at Blue Jay I got to work with a group of highly motivated students from different study backgrounds. It was quite an experience to work with them and we shared a lot of fun moments together. It’s always great to reminisce about the amazing things we did together.

I also got to attend a few big events and meet lots of people working for very interesting companies. Even though there is a lot to learn by yourself as a member of a student team, I think I learned just as much from the amazing people that helped us in many ways as part of various sponsorship deals. I learned that there is a lot of knowledge available in the industry, ready to be shared, and it has been a privilege to have access to some of that knowledge.

However, it was not only a fun and educational year. We worked very hard to achieve our goals, but not everything went as planned and we had to learn that the hard way a few times. Especially the setbacks during the last few months were difficult to process, but it is also the reality of life sometimes. In the end we can be proud of what we were able to achieve. Hopefully, our legacy will remain visible to many future team members of Blue Jay.

What are you doing right now? (Still studying, working etc)

I am currently finishing my bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering at Eindhoven University of Technology. I will start with my master’s in September. It took me five years to finish my bachelor’s, two more than originally planned. One year was because of Blue Jay, but then I decided to take another extra year to finish my bachelor’s, because I was offered a part time job at NXP Semiconductors.

I started working at NXP in August 2018, just after I left Blue Jay. At NXP I work about 16 hours per week on projects that are related to mobile robotics. That also includes drones: we are developing products for autonomous and functional safe drones. One of our biggest projects in mobile robotics is the HoverGames. Participants of the HoverGames try to come up with technical solutions to societal challenges using our NXP drone development kit.

NXP is also still a close partner of Blue Jay, so I try to help the team as much as I can. I advise the current team on technical matters and I try to help with troubleshooting when there are problems.

How did your further career benefit from you year at Blue Jay?

In the first place, my year at Blue Jay directly led to me being offered a (part time) job. Being part of a student team is a very valuable experience that will pay itself back, even though we are not getting any (monetary) compensation whatsoever. I got to improve both my technical and soft skills during my year at Blue Jay. A student team is a great environment to develop yourself and learn through making mistakes. Yes, many mistakes were made…

Being part of a student team is also a great opportunity to expand your professional network. You get to know many people that work for all kinds of interesting companies, but also people from the academic world and even fellow students that have joined different student teams. It really surprises me how often I run into people that I was introduced to during my year at Blue Jay.

Blue Jay showed me what it is like to work together in a multidisciplinary team. Blue Jay has always had students from many different backgrounds. I think working together with other people that might have a completely different view of the work is a very valuable thing to learn at the beginning of your career.